Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry reacts after a turnover in the second half against the Brooklyn Nets in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at Barclays Center in New York City on April 27, 2014. The Raptors defeated the Nets 87-79 and tied the series at 2-2. UPI/John Angelillo

Draft season is now truly upon us with all sites having listed their official rankings for the fanatics, but how accurate those rankings are will well and truly depend on the structure of your league.  One of the many attractions to the fantasy sport of basketball is the many different strategies that can play out, and of course the variety of settings and types of leagues that can be afforded to those that take the time to be commissioner of one of our favorite past times.

One of the big minefields that I spend scrupulous hours changing my ranks is trying to balance the variety of categories.  The biggest minefield for me is turnovers.

There has been a lot of debate in and around the fantasy sports world about who is the true consensus number 1 pick is this year. Is it James Harden in a new uptempo Rockets system with better stretch options around him to open the court? Is it Russell Westbrook with what will be an insane usage rate with Kevin Durant out of town? Can Steph Curry and Kevin Durant co-exist on the same roster that also boasts Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, on a team likely to blow a lot of others out? It is these questions which make fantasy sports great again, and a small difference – like adding turnovers to a league – can make a significant change, especially when you factor in that both James Harden and Russell Westbrook led the league in turnovers last season (with 374 and 342 respectively).

In this article, I will be solely focused on the point guard position.  There is an argument in 9 cat leagues for a ‘punt PG’ strategy’, and I’m looking at potential PGs who should receive a bump in value in turnover leagues. Now, low turnovers are only 1 part of the 9 categories, and balancing this against the efficiency of other stats is hugely important (no point owning a low turnover guy if he offers little elsewhere).  But I will make a case for some potential targets given your draft position and strategy:

In the table below, see the turnovers for each player, weighed against their assist/turnover and steal/turnover ratios.  Traditionally, if we are not punting PGs, these are the elusive stats we chase (of course other factors are important, but for the sake of simplicity let us focus on those):

*Table consists of PG players who averaged 20 minutes or more in 2015-16

Player TO per 48 min AST/TO STL/TO
Russell Westbrook  6.0 2.44 0.48
John Wall 5.5 2.48 0.46
Dennis Schroder 5.4 1.91 0.38
Rajon Rondo 5.3 3.02 0.51
Emmanuel Mudiay 5.0 1.71 0.30
Eric Bledsoe 5.0 1.73 0.57
Stephen Curry 4.7 2.01 0.65
Jeff Teague 4.6 2.16 0.44
Brandon Knight 4.5 1.49 0.34
Michael Carter-Williams 4.5 1.84 0.52
Reggie Jackson 4.4 2.21 0.26
Jrue Holiday 4.4 2.34 0.53
Damian Lillard 4.3 2.12 0.27
De’Angelo Russell 4.2 1.36 0.47
Derek Rose 4.0 1.78 0.25
Isaiah Thomas 4.0 2.31 0.41
Elfrid Payton 4.0 2.64 0.50
Chris Paul 3.8 3.8 0.78
Kyle Lowry 3.8 2.20 0.70
Goran Dragic 3.8 2.26 0.38
Kyrie Irving 3.6 2.02 0.45
Jeremy Lin 3.5 1.57 0.39
Deron Williams 3.4 2.52 0.41
Tony Parker 3.2 2.89 0.41
Kemba Walker 2.8 2.46 0.74
Darren Collison 2.8 2.45 0.58
Mike Conley 2.3 4.07 0.80
George Hill 1.9 2.56 0.82

Bump in value:

The Elite: Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors

If you fancy grabbing a PG early in a turnover league, then what about Kyle Lowry? Sitting entrenched in the bottom 3rd for turnover efficiency, Lowry offers you excellent across-the-board numbers excelling in treys, points, rebounds and steals,  as well in chipping in with those valuable blocks, all at the expense of just 2.8 turnovers per game. For efficiency, there are few better PGs than Lowry in turnover leagues.

Mid Tier: Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies

If you are going for a punt PG strategy passing on the elite PG, there are still plenty of options who show great efficiency. Mike Conley might not be the sexiest name heading into fantasy drafts this year, but in a turnover league, Mike Conley has excellent value.  He maintains low turnovers compared to those that see similar minutes around him, leading the league in assist/TO ratio among point guards. Now you are not going to get other elite stats outside of the steals department, and of course health is going to be a risk with the 28 year old, but there are worse options than the Grizzlies primary ball handler in turnover leagues.  He makes a for a fine selection in the right format.

The Bargain play: George Hill, Utah Jazz

George Hill has become a very un-sexy name in the world of fantasy basketball, which is not likely to change anytime soon. It is important to remember that the low turnover rate from last season is also a product of Paul George‘s penchant for handling the ball. Hill now finds a new home in Utah – a team full of players capable of handling the ball – so we shouldn’t expect the turnover rate to rise dramatically. Let us also factor in the Jazz’s need to add range, which should leave Hill with an excellent opportunity to contribute heavily in 3’s. A good late play in both roto and turnover leagues, Hill should once again have the opportunity to produce solid production from a favorable draft spot.

Hit in value:

The Elite: Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder

Now it is difficult to give too much of a hit on Russell Westbrook given the elite status, but the turnovers are enough for me to consider not drafting him where I would need to in a turnover league. An argument can be made that it will increase this season given a) the departure of Kevin Durant and a higher usage rate and b) the departure of Serge Ibaka and the lack of options for the Thunder to stretch the court. The counting stats are nice of course, but I for one am not a fan of punting a category with my first round selection, especially if it is a top-4 selection.

Mid Tier: Dennis Schroder, Atlanta Hawks

Schroder is a somewhat sexy pick this fall given the departure of Jeff Teague and the fact that the Hawks lack true primary ball handlers, but he is a pick I am steering away from in turnover leagues. There are so few players on the Hawk’s roster capable of handling the ball, his turnovers will increase, and he had just a 1.91 assist to turnover ratio last year. I am all aboard the Schroder train in an 8 cat league, but for 9 cats I am avoiding.

Low End: Emmanuel Mudiay, Denver Nuggets

It is no secret that the Nuggets are one of my favorite teams to watch with all the young talent at their disposal, but I can not confess to being the biggest fan of Mudiay in any league, let alone 9 cat. Not only will you suffer in the turnovers department, but you are likely getting some brutal shooting stretches. With a TO/48 of 5.0 with an AST/TO rate of just 1.71, I will be leaving Mudiay at the back end of drafts for someone else to take.

You can find me on twitter @storytelling41

  1. FantaCHoops says:

    Is this article geared more towards rotisserie style? Otherwise, I think trying to get “cute” with TO efficiency limits you to a select group of guys, instead of getting the most value. If you punt TO, you can focus efforts on guys who have the ball in their hands a lot and are therefore likely to help you more in the counting stats. Give me those guys all day! I don’t think it makes TO a dumb category in that it slightly levels the playing field for the scrubs vs. studs, but I don’t think avoiding TO is a high percentage strategy in 9 cat.

    • Craig Bozic

      Craig says:

      @FantaCHoops: 100 percent agree that it is easy to get too cute with TO’s, and it is as much about balancing the efficiency to that of the counting stats. Punting TO is as effective if course as punting FT percentage, but the article is more geared towards the effects in value of adding TO as a cat abd who takes a bump or not as most rankings are for 8 cat only. Elite guys are still elite even with a high turnover rate

  2. NYFantaC says:

    Sooo.. I have Curry and Wall on one team. H2H 14 Team 11 Cat (8+ TO’s DD’s and Team Wins).. Should I try and dump Wall for maybe a lower TO pg, and a decent mid-rounder? Or just punt TO considering I have Curry as well.. lol. My other PG is Delly.. and I also own Oladipo who seems high TO’ish.

    • FantaCHoops says:

      In that format (weird format, by the way!), there’s no way in h-e double hockey sticks I would trade away Wall. My league did double doubles a while back, and they are very scarce in terms of players who get them on a regular basis, ESPECIALLY guards. Paul, Wall, Rondo, Steph, and Harden are probably the most likely guards to get them in any decent volume. Since team wins is a stat, I’d also elevate someone like Thompson or Love because they’ll get you a lot of those and some DD.

      Overall, I would overpay for consistent DD threats, as those guys will be easiest to get value for in a trade.

      • NYFantaC says:

        @FantaCHoops: you are a gentleman and a scholar! TY!

        Great article btw

        • Craig Bozic

          Craig says:

          @NYFantaC: as fantaC stated you have to mould it with your league, and having DD and wins again brings its own intangibles. Elite guys are still elite as there TO to other stats are still super high, and because the league has more cats than 9 then the turnover deficiency becomes more minimal

          • NYFantaC says:

            @Craig: good point!!! the minimization by addition..

            Given the same format.. Would you rather have MKG or Trevor Booker? (regardless of position).. Im thinking in terms of DD’s, FG% Steals, 3s.. Obviously MKG takes the TW category.. but he’s also unproven due to injuries.. IDK

            • Craig Bozic

              Craig says:

              @NYFantaC: at that point in the draft I will take the upside of MKG despite the injury risk.

  3. Andrew says:

    11 cat H2H categories. We use A/TO Ratio instead of TO and the 2 added cats are FGM and FTM.

    I’m punting FG% and Blocks. Would you go with Lowry or Irving?

    Assuming I can get either guy in round 2/3, who would you go with?


    • Craig Bozic

      Craig Bozic says:

      @Andrew: I have Lowry ranked ahead of Irving. Lowry should have a slight bump on Irving on the A/TO cat and more steals. If punting FG% I think Lowry is an outstanding pick, especially given the good support he will give in rebounds from the PG position.

      • Andrew says:

        @Craig Bozic: Are you at all worried about Lowry’s age? The numbers show a breakdown in the 2nd half of the last two seasons, which I’m sure you’re well aware of. I prefer Lowry as well, but age 30 for a high usage PG does raise a slight concern, even off a career year. Also, looking at my settings, is there any way IT4 put up comparable numbers to Lowry? Love the player, hate his lack of big minutes in the Celtics rotation. Thanks!

        • Craig Bozic

          Craig Bozic says:

          @Andrew: I am not too concerned about Lowry’s age at all given the type of player he is. Not being a PG who is reliant on a quick first step and explosiveness I think there is good hope for longevity and not an instant fall off the cliff in value. You can make an argument for IT4 for sure, but I prefer the more rounded game of Lowry given the fact he will contribute at the top end of his position for rebounds (which is how i often like to mould teams to give flexability). IT4 is the man in Boston backcourt for sure, but with the likes of Smart, Rozier and even Avery capable of playing the 1 will give Stevens more scope to restrict minutes at times in certain game situations f Celtics are locked into for playoff freshness. The Raptors are reliant for heavy mnutes from Lowry, even more so with Delon Wright down injured.

  4. Balut says:

    Hey Craig!

    H2H 10-TEAM. We started the draft in my league last week.. and someone is trying to trade me WB/Ingram/R.Jackson for my Lowry/Gortat/D-Russ before the season starts.

    atm my team is made out of cp3, lowry, lavine, frazier, d-russ, saric, m.turner, favors, love, porzingis, Marcus morris, capela, nurkic ,gortat

    it seems fair overall, but i think im giving out a nice amount of 3’s plus Ingram doesnt look as promising as how everyone was hyping him up..while d-russ seems like hes almost as free as a bird on luke’s offense. but cp3 and wb together does sound so appealing…

  5. Craig Bozic

    Craig Bozic says:

    I am sticking with Lowry side for sure. With Kobe now done the usage rate for De’Angelo will go through the roof, especially given the Lakers need for him to perform. Lowry is an elite option from the PG position and Gortat might not be sexy, but the production is safe as houses. Ingram has long term appeal, but if i am giving up the players you are potentially looking to move I would want a lot less risk involved

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